MARSHALL used the fabulous Original "Bluesbreaker-Pinstripe" during the brief, but tonally defining 2-1/2 year period, from late-1965 through early-1968:

- It was a singular type of grill cloth, which over time has come to be known by two names, depending on its application and orientation:

 

1) When mounted HORIZONTALLY on a JTM 45 or 18-Watt combo, it is called "BLUESBREAKER," which is an homage to Eric Clapton's use of it during the recording of "Blues Breakers, John Mayall with Eric Clapton" in April 1966. There is a photo on the back of the Album, in which you can clearly see Eric in the studio with his Les Paul and his MARSHALL #1962, 2x12 Combo with "Bluesbreaker" Grill Cloth. Commonly called the "Beano" Album, this was the first recording to ever display the "Divine Interconnection" that exists between a 1958-60 GIBSON Les Paul 'Burst and a "JTM" MARSHALL. This was the "Clapton is God" period and a great many players would argue that this remains the Ultimate Rock and Blues Guitar Tone ever recorded!

 

2) When mounted VERTICALLY on a 4x12, 8x10 or PA speaker cabinet, it is called "PINSTRIPE," which is an accurate description of its appearance, made famous on the early JTM 45/ 100 "Stacks" of The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream.

- When Clapton invented the Woman Tone, "Pinstripe" was over his shoulder!

- When Hendrix burned his 'Strat at the Monterey Pop, "Pinstripe" was at his back!

  

    "Bluesbreaker" and "Pinstripe" are two names for the exact same Grill Cloth. 

     

      - For over 40 years, many players and collectors have wondered: Why did MARSHALL run the grill cloth vertically on the speaker cabinets, but horizontally on the combo amps?  This "feature" has had such an impact on the overall "style" of the amplifiers that one naturally assumes the decision to do so was purely a cosmetic consideration, and after 4-1/2 decades, it is nearly impossible to imagine the grill cloth ever being mounted in any other way. However, I believe the most likely explanation is far less glamorous, and as is often the case with vintage MARSHALL amplifiers, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that economics were the primary motivating factor. 

 

The original 1960s roller machinery produced a finished roll of grill cloth that was 52" wide. The baffle width of a "standard" or "tall bottom" 4x12 cabinet is just over 28", which means that a 31" wide piece would be the required minimum for proper installation. Once the 31" portion was cut away from the 52" roll, it left a 21" wide strip that was ideal for the 2x12 "Bluesbreaker" and "18-Watt" combos, but only with the grill cloth now running "sideways." This remaining strip would also have been suitable for the smaller "PA" cabinets, thus leaving the Series I 4x10 "Bluesbreaker," with its 28" tall cabinet in an "oversized" 4x10 Fender Bassman style configuration, as the only combo amp that the 21" width would not accommodate. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Series II redesign did away with this taller cabinet by mounting the 10" Celestion speakers in a staggered arrangement, which allowed the 4x10 to now share the Series II 2x12's "lower & wider stance" cabinet dimensions. By wisely installing the grill cloth in this manner, MARSHALL was able to use nearly every last inch of the 52" wide roll, maximizing potential profits, by minimizing the waste.

 

 

 

- It was purchased by MARSHALL  through a vendor that also supplied its brethren to other British manufacturers of the day. The unmistakable "Bluesbreaker-Pinstripe" form appears in numerous color combinations on certain period amps from Selmer, Domino = JMI (Vox) and Park 45 = MARSHALL JTM. Interestingly, each manufacturer and/ or brand seems to have had its own exclusive color combination, despite the fact that the original "White" rubberized grill cloth (used by MARSHALL from 1962 through late-1965), was used in identical form by Domino, Selmer, Watkins, Burns, and even early Hiwatt. The 1992 MARSHALL 30th Anniversary Catalog states: "Fret cloth changed to green flecked weave ['Bluesbreaker-Pinstripe'] late 65." Compared to the "White" cloth, "Bluesbreaker-Pinstripe" is of a significantly different "wide stripe" construction and is far more visually stylized, but I strongly suspect that the same company manufactured both cloths for the following reasons:

 

1) The underlying base fabric is of an identical material, weight and weave.

2) In both cases, the base fabric has a unique slant, or "bias weave" that runs at +/- 85 degrees perpendicular to the stripes (this can be clearly seen on the back cover photograph from The History of MARSHALL, by Michael Doyle)

3) They both feature an identical Multiple Process, Hybrid Construction Method.

4) They both feature an identical "Rubberized Stripe" material.

5) The cosmetic "Top printed pattern," though different in design, is identical in concept and execution.

6) It's logical that MARSHALL would have likely chosen the path of least resistance, and continued to use the same vendor (regardless of design changes), just as they did with Celestion, through the Alnico to Ceramicmagnet transition. 

 

- It was vastly more complex  than any other grill cloth used before or since. Until now, its unique "Rubberized Stripe on Fabric," Multiple Process, Hybrid Construction had not been successfully realized or duplicated since 1968. Due to this complexity, each piece of original "Bluesbreaker-Pinstripe" seems to vary slightly within an fairly wide tolerance. I have observed noticeable differences in stripe width and edge "waviness." 1965-66 examples tend to feature a wider 70% Stripe/ 30% Cloth ratio, which penetrates deeply into the base fabric with more uniform stripe edges. This seems to have gradually evolved into the noticeably thinner 60% Stripe/ 40% Cloth ratio, commonly seen towards 1968, which features a more narrow and shallow "wavy edged" stripe. Pieces from 1967 usually split the difference with about a 65% Stripe/ 35% Cloth ratio .

 

- It was cosmetically more sophisticated  than any other grill cloth before or since. Its distinctive "Snakeskin" like pattern (finely printed over light gray stripes on a black base fabric) is quite stunning when experienced in person. Unfotunately, original examples are exceedingly rare (especially in in good condition), so it is unlikely that most players or even collectors will ever see, let alone EXPERIENCE "THE SOUND" of a real and truly fine specimen.

 

- It was of a far more impenetrable construction  than any other grill cloth before or since. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! Because of this unique feature, authentic "Bluesbreaker-Pinstripe" Grill Cloth IS NOT acoustically transparent! It significantly alters the tone:

 

The heavy rubberized stripes (occupying approximately 65% of the grill cloth surface area), effectively limit the amount of sound capable of flowing through, unimpeded. This creates a mild "pressurized zone," which causes a drumming effect that inhibits some of the speaker cone movement and adds an increased sense of damping (some even believe this logically raises the speaker's power handling). In turn, this significant expanse of rubberized material also reflects some of the sound directly back towards the speaker cone. The resultant phase cancellation contributes to a unique, frequency specific roll-off. There is a smoothness to the tone because some of the very highest frequencies are attenuated, but "Bluesbreaker-Pinstripe" does not sound dull or lack definition and clarity. Let's not forget that approximately 35% of the sound (highs included), continues to flow unimpeded through the exposed "open weave" fabric between the stripes. This dynamic variation in surface treatment creates a complex filtering mechanism that cannot be simulated in any other way.

 

- It was truly the world's original "Tone Cloth," as Michael Doyle describes it on Page 124 of The History of MARSHALL. Its natural effect is to filter the acoustical hard edges in a "musical" way, not unlike the difference between Tube and Solid State amplification. "Bluesbreaker-Pinstripe" Grill Cloth is the final essential "JTM" tone element present before "THE SOUND" hits your ears. 

 

- It was an instant "Classic," as it helped establish the definitive "Rock Guitar Sound." Its familiar charcoal flecked pattern graced the original army of Marshall 100w Stacks, which began taking the world by storm during 1966-67. Many of the most famous period Rock photographs feature "Bluesbreaker-Pinstripe's" unmistakeable "Snakeskin"backdrop.

 

- It was essentially a "Handmade" product. Industrial machinery and tooling were obviously utilized in the production of  Original "Bluesbreaker-Pinstripe," though it's apparent that the operations and procedures were performed through human labor, as evidenced by the wide tolerances in original 1965-68 pieces. The viability of "Handmade" mass-production products vanished decades ago, but the economic condition in post-WWII Europe created a situation where materials were expensive and labor was relatively cheap. Therefore, the most cost effective way to perform complicated tasks and procedures was through human labor. Additionally, there was an "old world" sense of pride that has been largely lost. This quality and care even found its way into products as seemingly mundane as grill cloth and imbued a certain artistic charm, as each piece - though nearly identical - was actually unique.

 

 

- It was replaced by "Salt & Pepper/ Basketweave" Grill Cloth in early-1968. By studying the other manufacturers that used it as well, "Bluesbreaker-Pinstripe" seems to have disappeared from the British amplifier scene at about the same time. It was definitely discontinued, as it essentially vanished from the Face of the Earth . I believe this occured for two main reasons:

 

1) The "SP/ BW" was a newer, more sonically transparent and less expensive alternative. It must have cost less because it was a totally woven, "singular process," machine made cloth. Additionally, the increase in "fidelity" would have been very likely "mistaken" as a tonal improvement. 

 

2) The "SP/ BW" was much more durable, as it was the first of MARSHALL's "specially treated woven paper" grill cloths, which later evolved into the "Checkerboard," and then into the "Black Cloth" that continues to the present day. If there was an "Achilles' heel" to the "Bluesbreaker-Pinstripe," it was its tendency to rip and tear with any significant use (most original examples surviving today suffer this affliction to some degree). By 1968, Clapton's and especially Hendrix's Stacks were beginning to look ragged, with some very noticeable wear and "tear" to the grill cloth. As a young company trying to establish itself as the "Ultimate" in Heavy-Duty, Professional Grade, Rock 'n' Roll Amplification, MARSHALL must have been concerned by this structural weakness being witnessed by thousands nightly, on stages across the world.

(Please read the "Resurrection" page to *, where the base fabric is discussed in more detail. This "structural weakness" is the only area where I have attempted to "improve upon" the original product, without detracting from its visual or sonic "authenticity," in any way).

 

"BLUESBREAKER-PINSTRIPE"®

Extinct since 1968

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...Until NOW!

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